Irish eyes will be smiling
The New Zealand Irish 'experience' is the subject of a conference being run by Victoria University's Stout Research Centre this month.
For the first time in New Zealand, the 20-23 July conference titled The Irish in New Zealand: Historical Contexts and Perspectives will bring together leading international and national researchers on matters Irish (see attached flyer).
The conference will be opened by HE Richard O'Brien, the Irish Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, who is flying in from Canberra for the occasion.
Conference Convenor, Stout Centre Senior Research Fellow Brad Patterson says despite the recent explosion of popular interest in Irish culture generally, deeper historical scrutiny of the New Zealand Irish experience has been slower coming.
"More than 600,000 New Zealanders can lay claim to some Irish ancestry, however, almost paradoxically, the Irish have been among the least studied of New Zealand's major European settler groups," says Dr Patterson.
"Naturally, the conference will have a strong emphasis on the study of migration patterns and aspects of religious history.
"Other papers probe the Irish contribution to New Zealand politics, as well as pioneering efforts in the study of distinctive New Zealand Irish communities, North and South Island, Protestant and Catholic."
Irish influences on New Zealand Literature and art will also be discussed.
Dr Patterson stresses the conference is not solely for professional scholars and writers.
"An interest in the New Zealand Irish is the sole prerequisite," he says.
"The main aim is to present new research and at the same time enlist wider community support for New Zealand Irish Studies and the study of Irish history, literature and culture in this country.
"It is my hope that this conference is the start of useful ongoing analysis of Celtic Studies and I'd like to see the Stout Research Centre be a coordinating base.
Dr Patterson says he is grateful to Guinness for its generous sponsorship of several conference events.
A number of social events have been organised including an Irish film evening and windup dinner.
"At such occasions, it is important to have traditional Irish beverages to add to the ambience," he says.
"And, if you'll excuse the pun, there's a quirky fit in Guinness working with Stout."
All enquiries regarding the conference should be directed to Brad Patterson at the Stout Research Centre, phone 463-5233 extn 8365.